The Finger Lakes Land Trust formally opened its 74-acre Owasco Bluffs Nature Preserve in the town of Niles, Cayuga County. The property, which protects 1,100 feet of undeveloped shoreline, was originally purchased in 2018 from Dr. Joseph Karpinski, a well-known oral surgeon from Auburn who passed away earlier this year.
The preserve features forested bluffs overlooking Owasco Lake as well as wetlands, meadows, and a rugged gorge. A one-mile trail begins off Sam Adams Lane and guides visitors through fields and forest, ending at a scenic overlook that offers spectacular views of the lake. This is only the third publicly accessible park or conservation area on the lake itself and it is the sixth conservation project completed by the Finger Lakes Land Trust within the Owasco Lake watershed.
In partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Finger Lakes Land Trust created two seasonal wetlands on the preserve. Construction of the wetlands improves wildlife habitat and also enhances the protection of Owasco Lake’s water quality by filtering runoff to the lake. Efforts were also made to further improve wildlife habitat by removing invasive plant species such as buckthorn and black locust, and by planting native trees and shrubs.
The preserve is open during daylight hours for quiet nature observation and low impact recreation such as walking, hiking, and snowshoeing. Hikers must stay on marked trails to minimize disturbance of native plants and wildlife and to avoid hazards. From October 1- December 22, bow hunters will be on the preserve in locations that are at least 150 feet from the marked hiking trail. The trail will remain open to the public. A map, directions, and additional information about the new preserve can be found at fllt.org/owascobluffs.